What Is Asean?

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization that brings together disparate neighbors to address economic và security issues, but the group’s impact remains limited.

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A woman sits in front of flags of ASEAN members in Bali, Indonesia. Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters
It is an intergovernmental organization of ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.The bloc’s biggest success in recent years has been promoting economic integration among members. It also helped negotiate the RCEP, the world’s largest không tính tiền trade agreement.ASEAN has struggled to size a cohesive response lớn Myanmar’s military takeover và China’s claims in the South đài loan trung quốc Sea, which overlap with those of several ASEAN members.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that aims to lớn promote economic và security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, & Vietnam. ASEAN countries have a total population of 662 million people và a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.2 trillion. The group has played a central role in Asian economic integration, joining negotiations to size the world’s largest không lấy phí trade agreement & signing six free trade deals with other regional economies.

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Yet experts say ASEAN’s impact is limited by a lack of strategic vision, diverging priorities among thành viên states, & weak leadership. The bloc’s biggest challenges, they say, are developing a unified approach lớn China, particularly in response lớn territorial disputes in the South trung quốc Sea, và responding lớn Myanmar’s civil war.

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How ASEAN Works

More on:

Southeast Asia


Regional Organizations

Defense & Security


ASEAN is headed by a chair—a position that rotates annually among thành viên states—and is assisted by a secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Important decisions are usually reached through consultation và consensus guided by the principles of noninterference in internal affairs & peaceful resolution of conflicts. Many experts see this approach lớn decision-making as a drawback of the organization. “These norms of consensus và noninterference have increasingly become outdated, and they have hindered ASEAN’s influence on issues such as dealing with trung quốc and crises in particular ASEAN states,” says thutrang.edu.vn’s Joshua Kurlantzick. 

Supporters of ASEAN, such as Kishore Mahbubani, who served as Singapore’s permanent representative to lớn the United Nations, say the grouping has improved previously hostile regional relations. “ culture of consultations & consensus generated geopolitical miracles, some so stealthy that few outside the region have noticed them,” says Mahbubani.